So, #stopkony is trending everywhere, with people spreading around that 30 minute long video put out by an American NGO about a horrible warlord in Uganda that’s slaughtering people, causing misery, kidnapping children, etc. It’s a horrible situation, no doubt, and yes he should be stopped. But seriously, clicking “Like” and “Share” isn’t doing a single thing to help him.
Simply being aware doesn’t solve the problem
First off, even the NGO themselves stated that the goal was to pressure the US government into dumping resources into helping to stop this evil-doer. Yes, spreading awareness is the first step to getting policy-makers to listen up, but the ultimate goal is to effect changes in policy, not just spread awareness. It’s pretty annoying when people think they’re suddenly humanitarians just because they shared a video with tons of people and that they’re actually helping to alleviate the situation over there. No, you’re not. Spreading awareness is just a stepping stone to your final goal of stopping this madman. If you don’t take the extra step to contact policy makers or donate money or something, you’re not helping that much. For sure, you’re helping to spread awareness about the issue, but that’s it. You’re not stopping the guy.
Saying that “spreading awareness” causes Kony to stop his violent actions is like saying buying home bread and ham will cause a sandwich to make itself.
Awareness is necessary, no doubt
Don’t get me wrong, having awareness of what’s going on in the world is definitely a really great thing. But it’s just like how everyone is aware that millions of kids in Africa are starving, dying of illnesses that are easily treatable in more developed countries. We’re aware of them for sure, and we certainly do feel sorry for their plight, but we don’t think we’re actually doing anything to help them simply by being aware and being sorry for them. If we spread an image of a starving African kid on Facebook, we don’t think we’re actually helping that kid get food do we?
But when it’s an organised campaign by a NGO, we feel like we’re part of this cause just because we “Share” their Youtube video, we feel like humanitarians. But in all honesty, we really aren’t.
So yes, thank you for letting me know this situation is happening, but don’t delude yourself into thinking you’re actually stopping Kony simply by “Liking” the video.
Not to mention we’re a country of just 5 million people
So, now that we’ve established that getting the attention of policy makers is the only way we can actively help alleviate the situation, let’s discuss if us Singaporeans can actually do anything. Can anybody really envision a Singaporean calling up their MP’s office, asking them if our government is going to do anything about Kony? Is anybody really going to attend the next Meet the MP session to express concern about the situation in Uganda (even though he’s probably not even in Uganda anymore, more on that later)? Maybe a few might? But not many.
The fact is that we’re a tiny country that doesn’t have much resources to begin with. We have plenty of problems to deal with here in our own country. We have very little say in the international stage when it comes to situations like these. Honestly it’s pretty damn unlikely our government is going to actively do anything about Kony, and rightfully so.
Money money money
There is one way individual Singaporeans can help of course, and that’s to donate to the NGO who put out that video, Invisible Children, and hope that your funds do make a difference in stopping Kony through the actions of this organisation. If you do donate, more power to you, it’s great that you’re helping with money. Just know that this NGO doesn’t actually spend that much on actual aid to begin with (just 32% actually). They’re much more focused on spreading awareness. A really large part of their funds goes to stuff like filmmaking and travelling expenses, because the goal of this particular NGO is more to raise awareness rather than actually provide aid. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, you need some organisations to be focused on spreading awareness.
Not to mention it’d be pretty ridiculous to think that a NGO would just take the funds and hire some kind of private military to take down Kony, seeing as how that’s really the only way to actively bring him to justice.
Get your facts straight
Please know that all NGOs, despite their desire to do good in this world, will all at the end of the day have some form of agenda. It’s the reason why so many activist groups target Apple when it comes to working conditions in Foxconn factories in China, even though dozens of other big tech companies use Foxconn as well, and many other factories in China have even worse conditions. No, they target Apple because they’re the biggest target out there by far, everyone relates to them because so many people have an iPhone.
Now, I don’t know what agenda Invisible Children has at all, maybe they don’t have any, but then it begs the question as to why most of their video was pretty factually inaccurate to begin with. After getting all riled up about the video, it’ll come as quite a bummer that most of it is pretty factually inaccurate to begin with. There are many reports that Kony hasn’t even been in Uganda for about 6 years, and that this army of his that supposedly numbers in the tens of thousands probably only numbers in the hundreds now.
To quote Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama:
“To call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement. While it draws attention to the fact that Kony, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, is still on the loose, its portrayal of his alleged crimes in Northern Uganda are from a bygone era. At the height of the war between especially 1999 and 2004, large hordes of children took refuge on the streets of Gulu town to escape the horrors of abduction and brutal conscription to the ranks of the LRA. Today most of these children are semi-adults. Many are still on the streets unemployed. Gulu has the highest numbers of child prostitutes in Uganda. It also has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.
If six years ago children in Uganda would have feared the hell of being part of the LRA, a well documented reality already, today the real invisible children are those suffering from “Nodding Disease”. Over 4000 children are victims of this incurable debilitating condition. It’s a neurological disease that has baffled world scientists and attacks mainly children from the most war affected districts of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu.”
Full article here.
So basically everyone got all riled up and spammed that “Share” button for something that ended 6 years ago… Oh well…